“Diets Are a Disaster.”

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Unusual dieting, eating disorders, and body image issues have been a factor in the lives of college students for many years. Strange diets seem to have become a fad in young people and some Chico State students would say they actually work. The counselors at Chico State have had hundreds of students come to them regarding body image issues and feeling insecure about their appearance. Although students may seem normal and healthy on the outside, many could be dealing with eating disorders and no one would ever notice. Media and celebrities contribute a lot to low self-esteem issues and crazy diets.

Dr. Stephanie Chervinko, Chico State counselor and resident expert on body image issues said that when students start dieting it is often related to issues including depression, anxiety, increased stress, and low self-esteem. A lot of these issues may develop at schools, such as stress from school work and self-esteem issues from seeing other students’ “perfect bodies.”

“Many people believe that changing their body will fix the other issues they have with themselves, and popular media and advertising really want us to believe this,” Chervinko said. “The reality is that everyone is human and we all have our ups, downs, and foibles. Conforming to a particular standard of beauty doesn’t change that.”

Students start diets for a short period of time and quickly become addicted to them without noticing it and eventually develop a problem. In a college environment such as Chico State, there is increased peer pressure to look thin. Due to the busy schedules of college students, many don’t have time to exercise or diet properly and often want the “quick and easy fix.” This fix may include crash dieting, excessive exercising and unusual methods of eating. In general, the three major factors for dieting and eating disorders are a person’s biology, environment, and psychology.

“Diets are a disaster,” said Marjorie Bommersbach, Chico State counselor. “They are a set up for eating disorders and do not work.”

Bommersbach said social messages and media play a big part in eating disorders and body image issues, but people have been anorexic pre the media era. It can be from feeling out of control, due to conflict in the family, or sexual trauma. These problems may often link with anxiety, obsessional thinking, and low self-esteem. This problem is very common at Chico State and in many college campuses across the country.

According to the Tripbase blog, unusual diets used today include, the baby food diet, the kangaroo meat diet, the “air” diet, the morning banana diet, and the fork diet. Most of these diets have become popular because celebrities used and promote them claiming that they work. Since students want to lose weight quickly, their own health and safety are rarely a concern when it comes to dieting,

“According to date from the Chico State Healthy Minds Study (2007), 28 percent of our students say that they feel fat even though others tell them they are too thin.” Bommersbach said. “Body image issues are a huge problem at Chico State. It goes on all the time.”

Dr. Devjani Banerjee-Stevens, Chico State counselor, also disagrees with the use of any type of diets. She said they tend to put foods into “good” and “bad” categories and eventually it becomes more tempting to eat “bad” foods.

“You’re more likely to enter the “cycle of shame” if you allow yourself to indulge.” Banerjee-Stevens said. “That is, you’re more likely to feel out of control when you do eat something “bad.” Not a good way to live.”

She also said body image issues can emerge and persist at any point during a person’s life. Most of the time puberty and young adulthood aren’t the most common times to develop an eating disorder, a person’s functioning or impact self-esteem.

“I’ve worked with clients for whom pregnancy, extreme weight loss/weight gain, or entering a sexual relationship can trigger body image concerns for the first time later in life,” said Dr. Banerjee Stevens. “I also have worked with clients in their 30s and 40s who continue to struggle with bulimia and anorexia, and body image issues often accompany these disorders. It’s also important to remember that both men and women can struggle with negative body images.”

Although many believe dieting is not a good approach to losing weight and maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Dr Banerjee-Stevens is in favor of mindful eating and exercise. The Health at Every Size approach to eating/exercise is one she definitely endorses. [This approach can be found at http://www.haescommunity.org/index.php.%5D There is always a healthy way to monitor eating habits for a long lasting and satisfied life.

The counselors at the Chico State Counseling and Wellness center are extremely caring and supportive people. If anyone on campus feels that they have even the slightest problem with body image issues, self-esteem issues, or just want to express their feelings to someone then that is the place to go. The Counseling and Wellness center is located in the Student Services building on campus. Self-love is extremely important and everyone was made in different shapes and sizes. There is nothing wrong with living a healthy lifestyle and wanting to cut back on the sweets, but it should not become an obsession.

Stephanie Chervinko, Ph.D.

California State University, Chico

Counseling and Wellness

(530) 898-6345


Devjani (Juni) Banerjee-Stevens, Ph.D.

California State University, Chico

Counselor and Cal MHSA Program Manager

(530) 898-6345


Marjorie Bommersbach

California State University, Chico

Counseling and Wellness

(530) 898-6345



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